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Nearby History
Melpine Country School
Located in Wildcat Den State Park near Pine Mills is historic Melpine School. Iowa state law required that a country school be built within two miles of each student,thus each county was dotted with these small one room schools. All of the grades were taught together by a single teacher in one room.

Melpine School was moved from its original location in Sweetland township and completely restored to its 1920ís appearance by the Friends of Melpine School.  Inside you will find the desks, books and teaching aids just as they were in the past.
Click here for more information about the school.

 

Old Stone Church
Muscatineís Old Stone Church is a fully restored historic church built by the Countyís early settlers. In 1867 a group of pioneers of German heritage needed a place of worship for their Methodist Episcopal congregation. Their faith was such that they hand quarried the stone 
near Pine Creek and built the church themselves.
 
Today the Old Stone Church is fully restored and is available for weddings, meetings and family events. The church is non-denominational and is owned by the Friends of the Old Stone Church a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

It is open for visitors and personal worship on Sunday mornings from 10AM to 12 noon during the summer if not booked for a wedding.

For more 
information contact:
Mr. John Scott, President
Phone: 563-299-8206
E-Mail: 
jscott@machlink.com
Web Page: www.oldstonechurch.us
 

Log cabin
A short walk from the parking lot will take you to another bit of local history. A few years ago a neighbor tore down an out building and found a log cabin hidden under the siding. He protected it and donated it to Friends of the Mill. The neighbor adjacent to Wildcat Den donated land for the cabin. Tree ring analysis found that the cabin was built in the late 1850s.  Volunteers have made much progress  rebuilding the cabin in the last 2 years. Once complete the cabin will be a unique part of our interpretation program. It will be used in our school tour program and will be used at the fall Heritage Day festival. We can use it for cooking demonstrations, old time tool hands-on demonstrations, and other pioneer-themed activities.

If you are interested in helping to rebuild the cabin contact Gary Christiansen at 563-264-1499 or gchris@machlink.com

Pine Creek Bridge
The 1878 bridge is one of the most visited spots in the park.  Itís the place to come if you enjoy a beautiful view, the sound of rippling water, or just the quiet of nature. The mill and the bridge are both on the National Register of Historic Places.   

Itís more than a rusty old bridge on a quiet stream.  Prior to the construction of the bridge residents had to ford Pine Creek at a crossing south of the mill or travel far to the north to cross the creek.  The lack of a bridge not only hindered travel for the residents of the township, it also badly hindered access to the mill.   

The residents of the area and mill owner Hermann Huchendorf petitioned the Muscatine County Supervisors in 1877 requesting that a bridge be built over Pine Creek at the site of the mill.  This was the same year that Huchendorf and his partner Beesley expanded and modernized Pine Mills.  It is easy to imagine how much Huchendorf looked forward to increased business from the farmers that lived across Pine Creek once the new bridge was in place.

The bridge the county purchased is a single span pinned Pratt truss type, a very common bridge design of the era.  The design had a great advantage as it lent itself to modular ďkitĒ construction.  A county engineer could order the bridge he needed right of the supplierís catalog choosing from dozens of standard designs.  The bridge would be delivered by rail and simply bolted together at the site.  Before the end of 1878 the new bridge was in place and in use.  

These old Pratt truss bridges are surprisingly tough.  Built of rust resistant wrought iron Pine Millís bridge is stronger than its rusty appearance looks.  If you look close you will see that some of the bridgeís beams on the upstream side are bent.  This damage occurred in 1990 when trees floating down the creek during a flash flood struck the bridge.   

Today the bridge is perfect spot to view the mill, dam and creek.  It also gives the public access to the small sand beach in the millís tail water pond.  Every summer on hot days you will see visitors playing in the pond and sunning themselves on the beach while others relax on the benches on the old bridge.

 


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Friends of Pine Creek Grist Mill
Wildcat Den State Park
1884 Wildcat Den Road
Muscatine, Iowa 52761-9479